Saturday, March 23, 2013

Technology, Attending, and the Arts

I have three iPads, a laptop (or two) a smart phone and an e-reader. When I work at home I have 2-4 devices open. The evidence has been in for a while we cannot truly attend to more than one thing at a time. In fact, trying to attend to multiple things at once results in n effective execution of both in most cases.

Why am I bringing this up (again)?

One, I left my phone behind when I snuck away to write at my favorite spot, the Village Inn around the corner. I had my laptop only. I ate lunch and got the two most productive focus time hours. I was online but I resisted answering emails.

Two, my undergraduate student all have devices of some sort that I encourage them to use. This, however, sometimes have negative consequences when they are unsuccessfully trying to multi-task listening to class discussion or lecture (they asked for it) while on Pintrest, Facebook, registering for classes, or one of the thousand other things they can do online.

Three, I am reading Getting Things Done, and am surprised to find interesting parallels from the beginning of the mobile era.

So... Technology has its down side. I love it, I use it every day, but it has a dark side. We have to teach ourselves to attend to the world around us. After we find ways to do it ourselves, we must find ways to teach it to our students.

I think one tool to teach students to attend, is through genuine engagement with art. It can be visual art, plastic art, movement or music. In all of these activities success can be found when you are fully attending. The lure for students (and adults) is the unique feeling that feel when you reach Flow. If someone asks why the arts, one possible answer can be that art creation can teach students to experience focus attending fully to a task. These moments of creative joy can serve as an idea of what we can achieve when we are fully present.

Now I will leave the computer and go attend to my children.

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